A Phenomenological Inquiry of Social Support in Relation to Health and Wellbeing among Rural Queer Female Youth

By Erin E. Cusack and Matthew Numer.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Introduction: This phenomenological study explores the intersection of social support, rural location and health and wellbeing among self-identified queer female youth. Social support networks can be a protective factor for queer youth by mitigating the effects of discrimination, and influencing health-related behaviors (Saewyc, 2009; Von Ah et al., 2004). Living rurally may present unique challenges for queer youth in fostering strong social connections (Poon & Saewyc, 2009). Objective: The purpose of this retrospective study was to describe the experiences of social support in relation to overall health and wellbeing among queer female youth living in rural communities. Methods: Data were collected from in-depth interviews with self-identified queer female university students in Halifax, Nova Scotia with varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The participants’ experiences of social support were analyzed through the process of reduction for significance in relation to health and wellbeing. Findings: Emergent themes including hostile school environments, family conflict, supportive friendships and rural communities were associated with participants’ health and wellbeing. Discussion: The findings from this study identify unique social challenges to guide further investigation and to inform inclusive health promotion policy and program development to foster social support and contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of queer female youth.

Keywords: Social Support, Health and Wellbeing, Queer, Youth, Rural, Health Promotion

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.35-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 795.922KB).

Erin E. Cusack

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dr. Matthew Numer

Lecturer, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Matthew Numer is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Program at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He holds a Masters of Education from California University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are in gay men’s health, masculinities, health promotion and health policy development. He is a research associate in Community Health and Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.

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